VIU Hosts Free Lecture on Canada's Exploration of The Universe Feb. 11

February 6, 2015 - 12:00pm

Did you know that astronomy is repeatedly ranked as an area of excellence in Canadian science?

Canadian expertise in astronomy has helped build and develop major international facilities such as the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope, the twin Gemini telescopes, the James Clark Maxwell Telescope, and the Attacama Large Millimeter Array, the largest astronomical project in existence.

Dr. Alan McConnachie, a top astronomer at the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Victoria will discuss these projects and more at Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) next Science & Technology Series lecture on Feb. 11 at the Nanaimo campus.

Dr. McConnachie’s talk will highlight several large-scale projects in development, including the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, called the James Webb Space Telescope, and the largest telescope ever to be built, the Thirty Meter Telescope being built on Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

According to Dr. McConnachie, Canadians are at the heart of these international collaborations and are responsible for key components that will enable cutting edge discoveries when these telescopes see first light. Dr. McConnachie will discuss the key roles and contributions that Canada makes to these projects, and present a flavour of the discoveries that they can be expected to provide.

Dr. McConnachie is a Research Officer and Instrument Scientist at NRC Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Centre in Victoria, and holds an Adjunct Assistant Professorship at the University of Victoria.

He obtained his PhD in 2005 from the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. He moved to Canada to take up a three year Research Fellowship at the University of Victoria, followed by a three year Plaskett Research Fellowship at NRC Herzberg. His primary research interests are in the detailed analysis of the nearest galaxies, including our own Milky Way, and in the development of astronomical instrumentation.

For the latter, he is heavily involved in new instrumentation projects for two of Canada's major offshore astronomical observatories, the 8m Gemini telescopes, and the 4m Canada-France-Hawaii telescope.

His free public lecture takes place on Wednesday, Feb. 11 from 7 to 8 pm, at VIU’s Nanaimo campus, 900 Fifth Street, Building 356, Room 109. Everyone is welcome and there will be a question and answer session.

For more information and a complete schedule of upcoming talks in VIU’s weekly Science & Technology Lecture Series, please go to


Photo caption: 

The Thirty Meter Telescope being built on Mauna Kea in Hawaii.  A groundbreaking ceremony and blessing was held for this project last October.


Media Contact

Janina Stajic, Manager, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6288 E: T: @viunews


Tags: Teaching and Learning

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